After sweeping the Milwaukee Brewers and taking game one of a three game series with the Washington Nationals last night, the New York Mets sit at 26-18 and just a half game back of the Nats for the lead in the NL East. New York went all-in for this season, bringing in Neil Walker and re-signing Yoenis Cespedes to augment their offense in support of one of the league's most dominant pitching staffs, which currently ranks third in the league with a 3.05 ERA.
The club's offense was dealt a major blow last night, though, when it was announced that first baseman Lucas Duda would be out indefinitely with stress fractures in his lower back. Duda had struggled a bit to this point in 2016, but he was one of the Mets most important contributors last season with a .244/.352/.486 slash and 27 home runs. In his stead the Mets have called up utility-man Ty Kelly (who owns a .772 OPS in parts of five seasons at AAA) but New York's assistant GM John Ricco told reporters that "We're not going to be able to replace Lucas Duda internally." A possible return within four to six weeks has been mentioned, but that's considered a very optimistic timeline and the club is planning on an extended absence from the lineup.
That's where our beloved local nine comes in. Everyone already knows that the rebuilding Brewers don't plan to compete this year and will be sellers at the trade deadline. Milwaukee has a hulking slugger of their own at first base in Chris Carter, who is enjoying an excellent bounce back campaign after being non-tendered by Houston over the winter. After hitting just .199 last season, "Trogdor" is abusing opposing pitchers to the tune of a .247/.306/.587 slash line (128 wRC+) and his 13 home runs rank third in the NL. After spending the majority of the last few years at DH, Carter has acquitted himself nicely at first, where he's solid produced marks of 1 DRS and a 1.4 UZR in a little over 360 innings this season. He's making just $2.5 mil this season and is controllable through 2018 via arbitration.
Had a scout speculate that if #Mets weren't interested in Jonathan Lucroy before, they ought to be now. He can play both first and catcher.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) May 23, 2016
Another interesting possibility for New York would be Milwaukee's all-star backstop Jonathan Lucroy. After struggling with injuries and the bat last season, Lucroy has returned to his typical outstanding form in 2016 and is hitting .287/.352/.473 (120 wRC+) with six home runs thus far in 165 plate appearances. Typically a highly-regarded catcher (though his defense hasn't been quite as good as it once was), Lucroy is also capable of playing first base and has made 32 starts there during his career, including two this season. With Mets' catcher Travis d'Arnaud's lengthy injury history, having that additional insurance behind the plate as well as at first base might appeal to New York. Lucroy is under contract for just $4 mil this season and has a team option for $5.25 mil for 2017. After re-establishing himself as Milwaukee's top trading chip, the price on the trade market for his services will no doubt be quite steep.
As far as returns go, it seems unlikely that Slingin' David Stearns will veer from his goal of acquiring young, controllable talent so we're probably better off speculating about prospects than a package of, say, Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler. New York's farm system is around the middle of the pack when it comes to overall rankings, but they have some appealing talents that could pique the Brewers' interest.
First baseman Dominic Smith and shortstops Amed Rosario and Gavin Cecchini are considered the club's top three prospects by MLB Pipeline, and New York's top pitching prospect, 21 year old Marcos Molina, is recovering from Tommy John and figures to miss all of 2016. Those players are considered more "above-average" prospects than they are "future stars," though, so a possible deal for Lucroy would probably need to be based around quantity rather than star-power. A potential trade for Carter would obviously require less prospect-capital than one for Luc, though CC should still garner a solid return.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs